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Walter Smith: Rangers fans gather outside Ibrox to pay tribute to legendary former manager

Rangers fans gathered outside Ibrox Stadium Wednesday night to pay their respects to their former boss Walter Smith.

Smith, 73, died in hospital Tuesday and the Rangers’ first game since his passing was dominated by tributes to one of their best coaches.

Hundreds of T-shirts from Smith’s time in charge were placed off the ground, as well as dozens of bouquets, accompanied by emotional messages of condolence from fans.

Before kick-off, both players and coaches observed a minute of silence, as did the crowd that sold out inside Ibrox.

A large banner at one end of the field also paid tribute to Smith and the legacy he leaves behind at the Glasgow club. It said: “For the facts made and the glories won, thank you Walter.”

Earlier Wednesday, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard, his assistant Gary McAllister, as well as players Steven Davis, Allan McGregor, James Tavernier and Douglas Park, arrived in suits to lay a memorial wreath for Smith.

The card in the wreath read: ‘To the Smith family, I am very sorry for your loss on my behalf and on my staff.

The grounds outside of Rangers' Ibrox Stadium were dominated by floral tributes, as well as scarves and jerseys, to the iconic former club manager, Walter Smith, after his death at 73.

The grounds outside of Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium were dominated by floral tributes, as well as scarves and jerseys, to the iconic former club manager, Walter Smith, after his death at 73.

Rangers fans were devastated by Smith's passing this week and sought to pay tribute.

Rangers fans were devastated by Smith's passing this week and sought to pay tribute.

Rangers fans were devastated by Smith’s passing this week and sought to pay tribute.

A minute's silence was observed before the start of Wednesday and a banner was placed in his honor.

A minute's silence was observed before the start of Wednesday and a banner was placed in his honor.

A minute’s silence was observed before the start of Wednesday and a banner was placed in his honor.

A photo of Smith appeared on the big screen, as well as 'always remembered' on the bulletin boards.

A photo of Smith appeared on the big screen, as well as 'always remembered' on the bulletin boards.

A photo of Smith appeared on the big screen, as well as ‘always remembered’ on the bulletin boards.

He won 21 major trophies with the Rangers during his two spells with Ibrox's side as manager.

He won 21 major trophies with the Rangers during his two spells with Ibrox's side as manager.

He won 21 major trophies with the Rangers during his two spells with Ibrox’s side as manager.

‘I want to send our condolences. He was a great support to all of us. He will be missed. With much love, Steven Gerrard.

Celtic Chairman Ian Bankier, CEO Michael Nicholson and Celtic Ambassador Tom Boyd laid a wreath outside Ibrox in tribute to Smith.

Smith was best known for his assault spell on the Rangers, where he dominated the league with 10 titles as a manager over two stints.

He also spent time in charge at Everton, taking over at Goodison Park between 1998 and 2002.

In a statement Tuesday morning, the Rangers said: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our former club manager, president and legend, Walter Smith.”

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard (left) and his assistant Gary McAllister (right) laid out a wreath

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard (left) and his assistant Gary McAllister (right) laid out a wreath

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard (left) and his assistant Gary McAllister (right) laid out a wreath

Gerrard's crown was accompanied by a note of condolence to the Smith family.

Gerrard's crown was accompanied by a note of condolence to the Smith family.

Gerrard’s crown was accompanied by a note of condolence to the Smith family.

Club President Douglas Park added: ‘On behalf of the Rangers board, staff and players, I extend my condolences to the Smith family.

‘Walter leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren, all of whom are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

“It is almost impossible to summarize what Walter meant to each of us at Rangers. He embodied everything a Ranger should be.

His character and leadership were unsurpassed, and will endure in the memory of everyone he worked with during his two terms as first team coach.

I spoke to Walter last weekend. Even when he was battling the disease, he was still able to provide advice and support.

Fans headed to the stadium throughout the day to pay their respects to Smith

Fans headed to the stadium throughout the day to pay their respects to Smith

Fans headed to the stadium throughout the day to pay their respects to Smith

It turned out to be an emotional affair at Ibrox on Wednesday night for the game against Aberdeen.

It turned out to be an emotional affair at Ibrox on Wednesday night for the game against Aberdeen.

It turned out to be an emotional affair at Ibrox on Wednesday night for the game against Aberdeen.

‘For that, I am personally grateful. I know that he also continued to maintain dialogue with senior members of staff, including our manager, Steven Gerrard. All of us at Rangers will miss Walter deeply.

Rangers observed a minute of silence in tribute to Smith.

They tweeted a photograph of the club’s players and staff bowing their heads on the training ground, with the caption: “A minute of silence in memory of our former club coach, president and legend, Walter Smith.”

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